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Doing undergraduate research has certainly enhanced the academic achievements of East Central University student Morgan Mackey.

Upon graduation this spring, the senior molecular biology major from Choctaw has plans to attend medical school in the fall. So far, she has been accepted to at least four medical schools at Dartmouth, the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University and Saint Louis University.

Most recently, Mackey did her honors thesis on working in the Dr. Raniyah Ramadan Center for Undergraduate Research and Learning, a new facility which opened on the ECU campus in 2015.

“That research experience has helped a lot,” Mackey said. “Research has helped me to solve problems. It has certainly livened up my educational experience. You get to work one-on-one with professors. Research opens up more opportunities.”

It wasn’t Mackey’s first research experience. In 2015, she served a NASA internship at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

“We focused on new types of radiation and how it affects human cells and bacterial cells,” said Mackey.

Her research efforts in the Ramadan Center at ECU focused on human T-cell leukemia virus type 1.

Along with gaining valuable research experience, Mackey is in the midst of studying abroad in Wales. Studying abroad may not be high on the priority list for someone who aspires to be a physician.

However, for Mackey it’s vitally important. Mackey will be spending the spring semester studying at Swansea University as the recipient of the Brad Henry International Scholarship.

“To be a good physician, I feel like you need to be culturally competent. I had talked about that in my essay while applying for the scholarship.” Mackey said. “I want to be able to help whoever comes to me and not just those who are like me.”

Being a doctor is something Mackey has aspired to ever since she was around 7 years old, considering her mother, Lynette, is a nurse.

ECU’s emphasis on a global education intrigued Mackey, who says she has attended many “Go Global” activities and fairs on campus. She believes fellow students should take advantage of a study abroad experience.

“Dr. Mara (Sukholutskaya, director of ECU’s Global Education Program) encourages people to get involved,” said Mackey. “If someone wants to experience growth, they should do it.”

Mackey will live in an international student village at Swansea where she will share a flat among six other international students, two of which will be Americans. The village will house up to 150 international students.

She is not sure what courses she will take, but knows she will immediately take a two-week intersession course on modern British culture.

Swansea is a coastal city and is the second largest in Wales behind Cardiff and Mackey is anxious to take in the culture, along with access to the beach and shopping amenities.

“Swansea is a bigger town with a small town feel, based around the university,” she said.

Mackey is also excited about going to city of Bath in Somerset County, England, known for its Roman-built baths and, of course, London is a three-hour train ride away in which she anticipates seeing Big Ben and the various museums.



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